Surveys: Are you for or against? This will only take five minutes of your time…

I just participated in a phone survey.  My cell phone caller ID didn’t know who it was.  I’m waiting to hear back from a tree pruning company about cabling an old silver maple in our yard in need of help, so I answered.  I usually wait for the voicemail, but I didn’t this time.  Lo and behold, it was a political survey about Massachusetts casino gambling and my feelings on how I might vote in the upcoming election on this issue.  Political surveys intrigue me, so I decided to take it, only I wanted to ask how long it would take.  I thought the caller said fifteen minutes, and then she assured me “five–I don’t want to talk for fifteen minutes, no offense.”  I almost hung up there.  I get annoyed when the caller gets too edgy with me–you called me, right?  On a Sunday afternoon?  The last survey I took was on a Friday afternoon.  I didn’t make it all the way through that one; I actually ended up writing to the organization (of which I am a member) because I felt the caller was so rude.

I find it interesting to guess what the slant of the survey is and its purpose.  It can be interesting.  However, I think I’m often not the ideal person to be surveyed.  I don’t like picking “yes” or “no” on complicated issues.  My personality and my background as an English major always push me to look to the gray areas, to point out the qualifiers and the counterexamples.

Online surveys?  You’re shopping online and they ask you if you’d like to take a brief survey.  No, no I wouldn’t.  If they offer me a coupon or a chance to win something, then sometimes I will.  It’s just that easy, websites out there!

Anyway, I highly suspect that any time I spend taking surveys is pretty much wasted time.  Probably, I should avoid them altogether.  The chances are probably pretty low that I’ll be participating in a survey that gathers meaningful, important data.

I did, once, help conduct a phone survey when I volunteered a few hours for a political campaign.  It was interesting to be on the other end.  Mostly, people didn’t answer.  Some people were annoyed.  Some hung up.  A few took the survey.  We had pizza.  I met a few other people my age who seemed to have about the same rate of success.

Do you have any interesting survey opinions or experiences?  Take the poll below to tell me what you think of surveys (we’re getting meta here, buckle your seat belts.).

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